This week we want to keep an eye on two matches. No. 3 BYU plays No. 2 Long Beach twice this week, on Friday and Saturday, in Long Beach. Long Beach actually jumped BYU in the AVCA Coaches Poll this week adding to the intrigue of these matches. There have been no common opponents between the two teams, giving us very little insight into how these matches will shape up, but here is what we do know:
BYU has convincing wins against fifth-ranked Loyola and then-fourteenth-ranked George Mason while taking No. 8 Stanford to five sets twice last week, splitting the two matches. Long Beach, on the other hand, is undefeated while playing great volleyball but only facing one team rated in the top 15. While this appears to be a great matchup to watch, our statistics tell us a different story. The season is young, allowing us a small, and arguably biased, data set to work with, but so far Long Beach appears to be the far better team. Here is how this matchup looks from our ratings.
Keep in mind that these statistics don’t factor in opponent’s ability. Because BYU’s schedule has included higher rated teams, BYU’s score has probably been impacted more negatively from playing high-quality teams than Long Beach has. This can be seen by referring to the average opponent rating for each team in the table above. Three out of BYU’s four matches have been against teams rated higher than Long Beach’s highest rated opponent. BYU doesn’t appear to have a great chance when looking purely at the statistics, but when you remember to factor in schedule difficulty, things probably balance out a little. We don’t really expect the match to be this unbalanced, but BYU traveling to Long Beach does appear daunting. Later in the season, after teams have played common opponents, the ratings will become a better prediction of match outcome. For now, we’ll just have to see how this week turns out.